Haydock 14:00 Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle
Many of these have been chasing, with differing levels of success, but the un-seasonal soft ground should play to the strengths of the likes of Welsh National winner Le Beau Bai, 5lb lower than over fences, and Victors Serenade. Cross Kennon is a class act on his day but didn't really sparkle over the winter and Cheltenham winner Pateese, representing Philip Hobbs who has a fine record in this contest, could be a better bet if staying the trip. David Pipe runs three and The Tracey Shuffle and Big Occasion both have a chance, while Nagpur has to go on the short-list after resuming winning ways at Plumpton. AMERICAN SPIN was beaten less than a length by the useful Cape Tribulation in a valuable handicap at Aintree and may still be on an upward curve. He's 7lb higher here but has stamina in abundance and will handle the going better than most. He can strike a blow against the big boys for Luke Dace's Sussex yard.
Lingfield 14:10 Betfred Mobile Chartwell Fillies' Stakes
Chachamaidee has been something of a standard bearer over this sort of trip for the Cecil team in Group company and she is somewhat reluctantly passed over in favour of FALLEN FOR YOU, despite being better than ever last term. The Gosden filly is taken to have her measure in receipt of 12lb on weight-for-age terms as William Buick's mount, a classy sort last season, has also had the benefit of a recent run, scoring effortlessly at Kempton. This is no time to be writing off Best Terms and the Hannon charge definitely warrants short-list inclusion as she couldn't handle the dreadful ground at Newbury on her comeback run and will be much more at home under these conditions.
Ascot 14:20 John Doyle Buckhounds Stakes
Dawn Twister, a Listed class stayer in Germany, is ideally suited by testing conditions as he showed when making a winning debut for Lucy Wadham at Ripon. He'll have his ground here but that form looks suspect. Tameen also loves the going and was a progressive type last season. She had a mishap on her reappearance at Goodwood so that shouldn't be held against her and with her allowance shouldn't be dismissed. Twin Soul finished fourth in that Goodwood event but doesn't look good enough so this can go to AIKEN. John Gosden's charge didn't make his debut until last June but improved as the season went on and was such an impressive winner on his return at Epsom, despite a narrow margin, that the step up to Listed class looks within his capabilities.
Lingfield 14:40 Betfred 'The Bonus King' Oaks Trial Stakes
It's hard to be confident about a contest packed with fillies of considerable potential but a chance is taken on DINVAR DIVA. A daughter of Dalakhani, she wasn't given a hard time on her Leicester debut last autumn, staying on in eye-catching style to claim fourth spot in a decent maiden. Everything about her that day screamed three-year-old and she is certain to relish this step up to middle distances. She is also preferred by William Buick to stablemate, Apothecary, already a dual winner. Vow created a fine impression on her Newbury debut but that came under totally different conditions and she is worth opposing at the likely prices. The Charlton team has made a pleasing start to the season and Estrela looked one to follow last season when scoring at Newbury, likewise Colima on her successful soft-ground Nottingham debut.
Ascot 14:50 Bovis Homes Fillies' Handicap
Shesastar began last season on a mark of 68 and she's now on 86. David Barron's filly won't mind the ground and Ryan Moore is an interesting booking. MOONE'S MY NAME was an impressive winner on her comeback at Windsor and, though she's never performed on soft ground and is 9lb higher, looks the one to be on. Diverting was superbly placed to land four handicaps last summer and though beaten on her final start off today's mark she didn't get the best of runs. Certral's three career victories have been on very fast going though she ran well enough on ground with some give on her reappearance at Nottingham. Chatterati has been raised 9lb for beating four opponents at Southwell which seems harsh but Free Verse scored on soft ground at Catterick on her final start in October and returns to action on what could prove to be a lenient mark.
Lingfield 15:10 Betfred Derby Trial Stakes
The form of the Newmarket maiden in which Shantaram finished a close second to Model Pupil is working out really well. The winner was denied by inches in this week's Chester Vase and the third and fifth have scored since. He looks sure to give a good account but MAIN SEQUENCE just shades the vote. David Lanigan has impressed with his handling of the unbeaten colt who landed a competitive handicap last time to complete his three-timer. This is obviously tougher but he's very much on the upgrade and is taken to make it four on the bounce. Goldoni has already pocketed one Derby trial at Epsom and his yard is going well now, whilst Rougemont will have every chance if handling the step up in trip. A line can be safely drawn through his last run at Sandown which came on practically unraceable ground. The unbeaten Ed De Gas is also respected as he's proven on an artificial surface.
Ascot 15:25 Betfred Victoria Cup Handicap
Hawkeyethenoo loves these big-field handicaps and won this last year from a 7lb lower mark. The ground was fast that day but good when he finished fourth behind Pastoral Player here in October and, with a 7lb pull, there should be little between that pair here. Imperial Guest is a specialist at this trip and almost always runs well here though he was behind Pastoral Player in October. George Margarson also runs Excellent Guest who was well beaten a year ago but was a cracking runner-up to Manassas on soft ground in the Buckinghan Palace Stakes at the Royal Meeting before occupying the same spot behind today's rival Brae Hill at Newmarket. The latter reappeared to land the Lincoln but is now on his highest ever mark. LIGHTNING CLOUD made tremendous progress last season and scored over the C&D in July. He can improve again this campaign and, as he won't mind the going, is taken to make a winning reappearance. Tariq Too is another who made great strides last year and reappeared with a very convincing victory on soft ground at Thirsk. Global Village is an all-weather specialist but showed that soft ground holds no fears with a fine run over a mile at Newbury last time and this is his best trip.
Haydock 15:40 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
Nicky Henderson has won this for the past two years with Eradicate and has both Aintree winner Lifestyle and once-useful chaser Petit Robin near the head of the handicap with useful novice All The Aces also taking his chance. Others look better treated, however, including RED MERLIN. He travelled strongly in the Scottish Champion Hurdle last time but didn't pick up approaching the last. Jason Maguire will have to hold him up for a late run but should find plenty of cover in this big field and he could be a bit of value to recoup losses as he won on heavy ground on the Flat. Charm School was just behind Donald McCain's charge at Ayr and should be prominent again while Conquisto has returned from a lay-off in fine form and could reverse Aintree running with Lifestyle - he holds Dream Esteem on that effort. The ground may be too soft for Taunton winner Caravel, however, and the four-year-old Secret Edge has had hard races at Cheltenham and Punchestown recently. Paintball and Arab League could be the pick of the remainder.